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Increased Risk of Skin Cancer Found in the Military

J Am Acad Dermatol; 2018 Jun; Riemenschneider, et al

There is an abundance of evidence of an increased risk for skin cancer development among US active duty and veteran populations, according to a recent extensive review that examined studies on the topics of melanoma and nonmelanoma skin cancer in military personnel. A total of 9 studies describing skin cancer incidence in the US military were identified, with 4 studies specific to melanoma. Investigators found:

  • There is an increased risk for melanoma associated with service in the military or prisoner of war status.
  • Service in tropical environments was associated with an increased incidence of both melanoma and nonmelanoma skin cancer among World War II soldiers.
  • 2 studies found that increased melanoma risk was also branch dependent, with the highest rates among the US Air Force.
  • Several of the reviewed studies implicated increased sun exposure during military service and lack of sufficient sun protection as the causes of higher rates of skin cancer among US military and veteran populations as compared with among the nonmilitary population in the US.

Riemenschneider K, Liu J, Powers JG. Skin cancer in the military: A systematic review of melanoma and nonmelanoma skin cancer incidence, prevention, and screening among active duty and veteran personnel. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2018;78(6):1185-1192. doi:10.1016/j.jaad.2017.11.062.

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